Shocking that "Nice" Seattlites Oppose City Homeowner Bailout

Seattle-based correspondent William Yardley made Tuesday's front page with a local look at what he called the "home foreclosure crisis," "Foreclosure Aid Rising Locally, As Is Dissent."

Yardley saw a conflict between Seattle's "nice" reputation and the reluctance of some residents to use their tax money to bail out homeowners, some of whomirresponsibly signed up for mortgages they couldn't afford.

As the Bush administration and Congress consider proposals to ease the home foreclosure crisis, local governments across the country have been lending money to imperiled homeowners and confronting some opposition.

Some of these municipal and state efforts have met resistance from people who consider the assistance undeserved and adamantly oppose anything that resembles a taxpayer bailout.

Seattle, which has nowhere near the kind of foreclosure problem other cities have, began a modest program last month offering loans of up to $5,000 to help a few dozen homeowners avoid losing their homes.

Not only are people in Seattle relatively prosperous, but they have a reputation for being nice, too. Yet no sooner had Mayor Greg Nickels announced the program than opposition surfaced.

"Just can't agree with using taxpayer dollars to bail out private homeowners, no matter how the mayor tries to justify it," read a complaint posted on the "Soundoff" section of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Web site.

Yardley quoted two other opponents of bailouts, from American Enterprise Institute and Americans for Tax Reform, both labeled "conservative." There were no liberal labels attached to seven supporters quoted, several of whom ran state- or local government-linked nonprofits dealing in housing.